The defeats to QPR and Bolton were a real shock to the system. It seemed as if Steve Bruce had managed to find the perfect balance, it was like he had finally stumbled upon a system which could see the Villians back into the Premier League automatically, after having struggled a little in the job. It is testament to the owners that they gave him time and it is now very clear that he is the right man for Villa going forward, even if he has to deliver the promised land through the playoffs.
It is though, of course, not over and not by a long shot and it is very important the squad know that. After beating Wolves so comfortably, it is clear this is a great side and one that can really ratchet the pressure up on Cardiff. While I won’t be rushing to one of the many excellent online bookmakers in the UK and throwing my mortgage on Aston Villa making it up automatically, I also wouldn’t be putting my money on Cardiff just yet.
Any why would I? Sports betting sets itself apart from your average form of betting by being based so heavily on your passion and knowledge of the sport. This allows for strategically putting your money on players or teams you know have a fair chance of winning and Cardiff just aren’t there yet. If you’re looking for a “safe bet”, this isn’t the team for you, right now.
This is especially true when you consider the fixture lists both sides have, with Cardiff’s being particular tough and featuring a number of top teams. The most important thing now is belief, not just in other sides but in Villa’s ability. There has to be a clear and frank discussion at the club about how playing the way they did against QPR is not acceptable but coupled with recognsing that Villa are having a brilliant season and have the talent to take 24 or so points from the 27 available, they have to believe that.
Cardiff still have to travel to Derby, who while in bad form, need to start winning to keep their playoffs hopes alive so will be very much up for hosting the bluebirds. Warnock’s men also have to meet a great Sheffield United side, runway leaders Wolves, a rejuvenated Nottingham Forest and of course, most importantly, they still have to come to Aston and to an atmosphere at Villa Park which is likely to be one of the best in years.
Villa on the other hand have Bolton, Hull and Reading all of whom are really struggling. The next three games are massive for both sides. If the Villa can pick up three wins against Bolton, Hull and Reading and then Cardiff do struggle against their two playoff chasing opponents, Derby and Sheffield United, then suddenly Bruce’s men could be right back in the picture.
This might well be wishful thinking, Warnock’s men have shown they can rise to any challenge and can meet adversity with courage and talent. The fact they fought back from a goal down to beat a strong Brentford side shows that. However they can still feel the pressure, if they slip up and Aston Villa are within four points then suddenly the sweat will start to collect and the stress will be massive. It’s going to be an interesting next few weeks for sure.